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Deke Bellavia

"Sports Talk" Co-Host
Weekdays 4-8pm

Twitter: @dekebigchief
Email: bigchief@wwl.com


Deke: Another major storyline as LSU prepares to open the season

A year ago at this time we were in the midst of hearing about a fight that took place outside a Baton Rouge bight club that supposedly involved many LSU football players.  The high hopes and high preseason ranking of the Bayou Bengals was questioned…and as they say, “here we go again.”

Coach Les Miles, his staff, and LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette must be scratching their heads, among other things, wondering if there could be some peace and quiet around the Tigers training camp.

Last Friday Morning I woke up set to talk to Don Dubuc about the Saints and their 7-6 loss to the Patriots, and lo and behold the topic changed as fast as the Honey Badger changed the 2011 SEC Title Game in the ATL.  

We all learned that the nation’s top defensive player and finalist for the 2011 Heisman Trophy was kicked off the LSU Football Team.  Sure there are all sorts of speculation, rumors and some stories that are saying “according to sources” about why the Honey Badger was booted off the team.  But to me, why he was kicked off is not the story.

The story now becomes how much will the Tigers miss the most exciting play-maker in college football this season?  I’ve fielded calls from all over the country and from all walks of life, and the majority of people always seemed to ask:  Why?  Why would a young man with so much talent and such a bright future do this?  

The answer simply is, I don’t know!  Tyrann Mathieu was given more than a fair chance to keep his status on the team but according to his coach, as well as his athletic director, the young man had a behavioral problem.  

If a player breaks the rules, then I personally don’t need to know what he did or what rule he broke.  He broke the rules and he did so more than once.  I’m quite sure that Tyrann Mathieu will move on and still get a shot at playing in the National Football League, but he has let his team down.  He has let himself as well as his family down.  But he can still fix all of this mess by just following rules and getting his act together.  

Some would not be able to get another chance like Tyrann, will but let’s face it, when you’ve done we he has on the field you are going to get another shot.  That’s the flat-out truth.  So how much will LSU miss Honey Badger?  I think more than some want to believe.
LSU can fill the void of Mathieu in their secondary with an equal, if not better, player who can cover wide receivers.  But there is no one on the Tigers team that currently has shown the ability to change the course of a meaningful football game in the blink of an eye like the Honey Badger did.

Against Oregon he was incredible, but before that we knew the young man had “it.”  The 2011 Cotton Bowl MVP was on the verge of becoming one of the greatest players in school and NCAA history, had he played this season and posted comparable stats like he did in his first two years.

But now, when the Tigers find themselves down by 10 or down by 14 in a big SEC game, who will return a punt for a score, who will pick off a pass and thwart a drive, and who will get a strip, scoop and score?  That is something that will be answered this season.  And if the answer winds up being no one, I still think the Tigers can have, and will have, what it takes to win it all.  But to think that LSU has not lost a great playmaker, a spark, a difference maker would be just plain dumb, because what the Honey Badger did was historic and the numbers show just exactly that.

The player who was a Heisman finalist, won the Bednarik Award, was an AP All-American, the 2011 SEC Title Game MVP, and set records for stealing the football away are just a few things that are missing without #7 on the field.

But perhaps the biggest thing the Tigers will miss without having Mathieu this season will be the fear factor he possessed.  Opposing teams were scared to punt the ball to him, opposing RB’s, WR’s and QB’s all pointed out and looked to see when and where the Badger was lurking in that Tigers Secondary.  They knew when the game was on the line, when the other team thought they were about to deliver a knockout blow to LSU, the man that was sweet as Honey would jack the other team and turn the momentum into the Tigers favor in a huge way.

Yes, to me, that is what LSU will miss the most.  Not often does a player like Tyrann Mathieu come around.  Not often does a player come around like Mathieu who gets kicked off a team for breaking rules.  It had to be very difficult for Les Miles to make this decision, and one I’m quite sure he went over and over again in his mind.  

But Miles felt like this had to be done, so he said goodbye to the player that became a sensation in two years.  But this is a team sport, and no matter how good a player is, no matter how much a player has done on the field, no one can or should be above the team.  

As in the words of the late great ole Blue Eyes, That’s Life!  And to me that’s the way it has to be!  




 
08/13/2012 2:00PM
Deke: Another major storyline as LSU prepares to open the season
Please Enter Your Comments Below
08/13/2012 2:18PM
Well Stated!
Deke, I could have not said it better myself. Tyrann knows he messed-up bigtime, but has he learned to turn down those temptations in the future, no matter what they are? Let's hope so, only time will tell.
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